Posts Tagged ‘Dilma Rousseff’
You’re not ‘African-American’…you’re ‘American.’”
Ever since President Barack Obama made his way to the Oval Office, the irrational chant of America having “arrived” in becoming a “post-racial” nation has become louder and louder. With the midterms behind us, what better time to further reaffirm some indisputable truths, ones that won’t get lost amid the election oratory that often clouds the public discourse?
The truth of the matter is that the election of Barack Obama signified the national irrelevance of race no more than the election of L. Douglas Wilder as governor of Virginia did for the state of Virginia twenty years ago. If the election of one African-American is the marker for the end of racism within that municipality, then the mayoral election of Tom Bradley in Los Angeles in 1974 would have meant the end of racism inside its city limits. Sadly, the Rodney King civil unrest of 1992 and Black/Brown instability in the decades since make a more compelling argument to the contrary.
Or, think of it this way…
Lexington, Kentucky just elected its first openly-gay mayor, Jim Gray. Is anyone ready to go on record proclaiming the end of homophobia in Lexington, much less anywhere else in Kentucky?
The idea of a “post-racial” nation is like any other Utopian ideal. If one is to suspend disbelief, disregard history and turn a blind eye to reality, then yes it is possible to “teach the whole world to sing in perfect harmony, buy the world a Coke and keep it company.”
If you’re too young to recognize that lyrical reference, here’s a youtube video to help you out.
But to the point of this editorial…
Progress should never be confused with reaching an end destination. Growth is not synonymous with maturation.
A common refrain found on websites, message boards and random Twitter feeds is that it is either “racist,” “divisive” or “inaccurate” for African-Americans to refer ourselves as…well…”African-Americans.”
You might have heard the statement…”We’re all Americans” as if calling ourselves “African-Americans” does something to cloud or unnecessarily complicate the issue.
Let’s keep it simple. This is an issue of ethnicity versus nationality. “African-American” speaks to one’s ethnicity and historical origin. “American” is the answer to question of nationality. With the exception of Native Americans, “American” does not indicate anyone’s root ancestry or the path to this continent.
And speaking of Native Americans…if Manifest Destiny was the justification for the domination of North America (and the continuation of slavery); by all means, we as Americans of African descent are well within our right to define ourselves while residing in it. Can’t have it both ways. If we are going to discuss “America”…Manifest Destiny and all of its baggage must be part of the conversation. Know thy history.
But Mo’Kelly digresses…
Ethnicity and nationality; two different answers to two different questions.
Along those lines, nobody asks women to stop calling themselves “women” and just call themselves “Americans.” The same logic applies. The question of gender requires a different answer than the one of nationality.
To reinforce the point, the elections of Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, the late Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and more recently Dilma Rousseff in Brazil haven’t deluded anyone in believing gender is no longer an issue in those countries.
As a matter of fact, Bhutto was the first woman elected head of a Muslim state…and later assassinated. Gender equality in Muslim states? Anyone…anyone…Bueller…Bueller?
Ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender…four different questions, requiring four different answers.
The census Mo’Kelly filled out was clear on all of these issues. The government was clear about my nationality…hence the words “U.S. Census” printed plain as day on the cover. But in terms of gender, ethnicity etc., they were separate questions to be answered independently of one-another.
Mo’Kelly is African-American and that is not to be confused with my nationality. Don’t be offended with my use of the nomenclature, it has nothing to do with you.
It’s not about you.
How I as a Black man choose to identify my ethnicity is purely my choice and your opinion is unimportant, unwarranted and unneeded. I capitalize “Black” because it’s indicative of a group of people, we’re proper nouns, not an adjective/modifier for an inanimate object (i.e. black car). It’s actually offensive and arrogant to think that once again, non-African-Americans want a say and to voice an opinion in how we African-Americans characterize our own ethnicity.
Don’t do it.
When the U.S. Constitution no longer refers to “Us” as 3/5 of a man, THEN we are ready to have the discussion on how African-Americans should refer to ourselves while in America and not a minute before. If we are really going to have the discussion of what it means to be “American” then it must also include discussion of the document which sets the parameters in the first place. “America” and “U.S. Constitution” walk hand-in-hand.
3 Arkansas men were just indicted for their roles in a cross burning…in 2010…in “post-racial” America. Funny, but cross burnings aren’t historically directed at “Americans.” They are reserved specifically for some of her ethnic subsets.
If I had the time, Mo’Kelly would draw a historical time-line of the many names used over the centuries to indicate the supposed ethnicity of my ancestors from the days of slavery to today; the ethnic separation from West Africa and the ethnic ambiguity forced upon all of us “African-Americans.” Yet since so many out there wish to act like slavery has no bearing on today and that racism ended January 20th 2009, we’ll just keep it in contemporary terms. As always, MY ethnicity is all about you and what YOU feel (wink, wink).
Mo’Kelly is African-American, stop trying to tell me otherwise. When it changes, I’ll let you know, not vice-versa.
Some call themselves Chicano, or Hispanic, others call themselves Latino. It’s not my place to question the use of any of them. The same applies here.
When the rest of you “Americans” stop making pictures of President Obama with bones through his nose, praising songs titled “Barack the Magic Negro” or creating laws like SB1070 in Arizona…then and only then can we begin the discussion of the seeming irrelevance of race in America.
The term ‘African-American’ is actually inaccurate unless you were born in Africa and immigrated to America.”
Mo’Kelly knows you’ve also heard this misguided statement as well.
Then please explain phrases like “Jewish American or “American Jews.” “Jewish” isn’t a country or continent. Maybe the National Italian American Foundation has some explaining to do, for it celebrates Americans of Italian descent. But to be exceptionally clear, it is ADMIRABLE that other groups understand this distinction, be it along purely religious or ethnic identity lines. It’s unfortunate that seemingly only African-Americans are expected to deny and justify the obvious. Equality is not found in selective disparagement, it’s in inclusion and genuine respect.
Mo’Kelly is “African-American” and extremely proud of it. Mo’Kelly is “American” and also extremely proud of it. Two different questions…two different answers.
When either changes, I’ll let you know…not vice versa.
Are we clear now?
The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant; published at The Huffington Post and www.eurweb.com. It is meant to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse…as well as entertain. For more Mo’Kelly, http://mrmokelly.com. Mr. Mo’Kelly can be reached at email@example.com.